European Grand Prix - preview quotes 15 Aug 2008
Formula One racing is about to re-group in Spain after its three-week summer break to visit the first all-new venue on the 2008 calendar - the impressive street circuit in the port city of Valencia. Organisers have created a unique and demanding 25-corner track that winds around the Juan Carlos I Marina. However, unlike traditional street circuits, whose tight and twisting configurations place a premium on qualifying at the front, Valencia is fast, sweeping and wide, offering plenty of potential for passing - and excitement...
Adrian Sutil, Force India
As the new events in Valencia and Singapore are street events, and we've had some good races on this type of circuit, I think we have a good chance of getting some good finishes. Looking to the next race in Valencia, we will be using the seamless shift gearbox for the first time at a race and hopefully that will give us a few tenths to be able to qualify a bit better. This has got to be the goal for the second half of the year.
Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India
Valencia is a completely new track for everyone and a good challenge. It looks very fast, particularly for a street circuit, and I've heard it is sold out so the atmosphere will be good. I am pleased we will be able to actually race the new seamless shift gearbox now. We've been having some good fights so far, particularly with Honda, and with the gearbox worth a couple of tenths per lap this may just move us in front - the field is so close now that any new developments will move us closer.
Colin Kolles, Force India, team principal
I think I won't be alone in saying everyone loves street races as they are much more immediate. Seeing how fast the cars can get on the streets you drive every day really puts the speed and the accuracy needed into perspective. The races are also much more unpredictable as the guardrails are so close so anything could happen. I think Valencia could become a real classic.
Mike Gascoyne, Force India, chief technical officer
Going to new circuits presents a different challenge for the team, but it's an interesting challenge for the engineers as well as the drivers and Valencia in itself will be a fascinating and unique event. In terms of preparation, we obviously look at the track layout and put this into our computer simulations so we have a fair idea of the nature of the circuit. There are some things you can't understand from the computers however, specifically the nature of the tarmac, how the tyres are going to react, whether you can use the kerbs or not, and so on are all unknown quantities until we get to the track. It's a good challenge though and will keep us busy!
Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari
I know Valencia, because we've done several tests here last winter, but now we're racing in the city on a new track: I'm sure it will be a great atmosphere. I've seen the new track only from the position of an on-board camera and it seems to be very fast for a street circuit. I always love to drive on new tracks and I am always very quick to know them. I can't wait to race at Valencia.
We have to start well at Valencia, where it's more important than in other places to drive with continuity from Friday on: I hope I'll have a trouble-free weekend to try to set up the car the best way possible, especially for the qualifying lap. The qualifying will be extremely important, although I think that there are some possibilities on the track to overtake. If it's hot that will help Ferrari. Like at Montreal you also need a bit of luck and I hope that it will not end for me as it did in Canada: anyway, there's no need to worry until we race. We just have to fight until the end and try to win.
Aldo Costa, Ferrari, technical director
"The track looks very interesting, combining a variety of different corner types, as well as some sections with a high top speed, maybe slightly lower than those seen at the Montreal circuit in Canada. We can expect high temperatures this weekend, which should not present us with any problems. After the high downforce configuration we ran at the last race in Budapest, we now return to a medium to low downforce configuration with some updates to the package that were already tested at Jerez in the week prior to the Hungarian Grand Prix."
Hirohide Hamashima, Bridgestone Motorsport, director of tyre development
""The Valencia street course is new to Formula One so this will present many challenges for the teams. For Bridgestone, we have evaluated the track layout and surface and we will bring the softest tyres in our compound range, the soft and super soft. This is a street course with many corners, although we expect quite high speeds to be attained over the course of a lap. As with any street course we expect the grip levels from the circuit to improve over the course of the weekend. In Valencia in August we should see quite high temperatures so teams will have to be vigilant with their tyre management. As we have not raced here previously this should be a learning process for everyone involved, and strategy decisions over the race weekend will be interesting."
Nico Rosberg, Williams
"Ive had a nice, but not particularly, relaxing couple of weeks in the Alps during the break. Ive spent some time with family and friends but mostly Ive been training. Valencia is a Grand Prix Ive been looking forward to as its not only a new circuit, but a new street circuit. From what Ive seen and read about it, I think itll be a great track to race on so I cant wait for the weekend to start. The atmosphere will no doubt be fantastic as well because the Spanish have a real passion for Formula One. Valencia should be a track that suits our car, so Im hoping well have a good race and take something positive away from Spain."
Kazuki Nakajima, Williams
"Im looking forward to a good race in Valencia. The new track looks great, and should be really interesting to race on. As at Monaco and Montreal, our car goes well at these kinds of tracks, so Im hoping well put in a good performance there. It shouldnt take too long for the drivers to get used to the circuit, and for the first time the rest of the grid will be learning it with me! Ive had a nice two week break, during which I returned home to Japan to catch up with family and friends, but now Im looking forward to the last few rounds of the season."
Sam Michael, Williams, technical director
"Valencias street circuit is a new addition to the calendar. It looks like a great track with some interesting sections for drivers and engineers alike. With 25 corners around the lap, it will be busy work for the drivers to maintain concentration and put together a perfect lap, particularly in qualifying. Because the circuits a new entity for the drivers, and because it will be green when they first go out of the garage, having a trouble-free run on Friday will be essential for a successful race weekend. The cars will run a lower than normal rear wing drag level in Valencia due to the five long straight sections, and the long, sweeping corners will all be taken at full throttle. Bridgestone will bring the soft and super-soft tyres, both suited to street circuits. Teams will, most likely, opt for a one or two stop strategy on the basis that overtaking on a twisty street circuit is always fairly restricted. We will, however, review strategy on Friday night after we have some more accurate data regarding tyre degradation and fuel consumption."
Nelson Piquet, Renault
This season I have already learned several new circuits, but the difference this time is that all the drivers will be in the same position and having to learn the circuit. I think that from the point of view of the championship it's interesting to visit new tracks: it's an extra challenge for the drivers as well as the teams. I have worked hard with the team to approach this race in the best shape possible and I will try to get on the pace quickly and maximise every lap in practice. It's a street circuit so it will be quite tricky, but also very interesting. It's never easy to learn a new circuit, but, as I have said, this time all the teams and drivers will be in the same position. It will be interesting to see who can get comfortable fastest. I would like to have another solid weekend, starting off with a good day of practice on Friday, qualifying in the top 10 and showing good race pace to hopefully finish in the points. That's how I will approach this race. After the summer break, I am well rested and motivated to have a great end to the season.
Fernando Alonso, Renault
I'm very happy to be driving at home for a second time: it's always a special feeling to race in front of my countrymen and I'm really looking forward to it. In Barcelona we were having a strong race when I had to retire, but I hope this time I can get a good result as the circuit will be new for all the drivers. It will be interesting for me and also for the team, who have been working hard in preparation for this race for the last couple of months. As a new circuit, I think it gives the drivers a chance to show what they can do, but I am not under any illusions as I expect all the drivers to be quick. We must do our best to find our reference points quicker than the others in order to spring a surprise.
Pat Symonds, Renault, director of engineering
We look forward to every race and I think we like the challenge of a new circuit. We enjoy the ambiance of visiting new places and the race team have had a short break so they will head there raring to go. It certainly looks like a fabulous venue. The teams are all well used to going to new circuits so I think the playing field is pretty level anyway. However, I would say that going to a new track is much more a test of a team's ability to adapt to new circumstances and manage change, which is one of the reasons why I enjoy the challenge of a new circuit.
Timo Glock, Toyota
I'm still smiling after Hungary. That was an incredible result and a fantastic feeling; I hope it will be the first of many podiums in Formula One. The important thing was that we showed just how competitive we are at the moment and moved further ahead in fourth place in the constructors' championship. There is a great atmosphere in the team and we are all working hard together to move forward, which is why it was so satisfying to get on the podium in Hungary. But Valencia is a new race and we must start again. I did plenty of street races when I was racing in Champ Cars and in that season almost all the tracks were new to me so I have learnt to adapt quickly. It looks like an interesting circuit and it's quite long so it should be a good show. We will have plenty of work to do on Friday to adjust the car to the track but we are in good form at the moment so I am optimistic for this weekend.
Jarno Trulli, Toyota
"The track looks amazing and the location is fantastic so I am really looking forward to this Grand Prix. The team has worked hard to prepare for this race because it is a new track for all of us but from a driver's point of view the important thing is to drive it for the first time and then you can start to understand more about the circuit. I enjoy going to new venues because they are a new challenge and there is always something to discover; every race is unique and I like that. Even though this is a new track for us, I know Valencia pretty well from all the testing we have done at the other circuit there. It is a lively city and there always seems to be something going on so it should be a fun weekend. I am expecting a competitive weekend as well because at the moment we are looking quite strong. Scoring more points is our target and if we challenge for the podium again, that would be great."
Pascal Vasselon, Toyota, senior general manager chassis
"We are well prepared for Valencia. Of course, we started our preparations for this new track by looking at the FIA information and that allowed us to put forward some speed profiles in order to estimate downforce and braking requirements, for example. We also sent staff to look at the inaugural race meeting there at the end of July and that gave us additional data with regards to speed profiles, driving lines and track surface. We expect the track to be in the mid range of downforce and quite severe on brakes. At the beginning we anticipate grip will be quite low but that should improve throughout the weekend. In terms of performance, we clearly want to build on the competitiveness shown in Hungary. We are genuinely challenging to be the third quickest car based on the last few races. Valencia will also show how well teams can react to new conditions so it will be an interesting weekend and we have every reason to be feeling very positive."
Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber
"I'm always pleased when a new race track turns up in the calendar, and I'm particularly keen to experience Valencia. It will be an authentic street circuit in the sense that it runs through the town centre, unlike the Melbourne or Montreal tracks. In terms of its charms and challenges, the Valencia race will probably come closest to the Monaco Grand Prix. I really like Valencia, which I've visited many times, of course. We do a lot of testing on the permanent race track in Cheste and we've rolled out our new Formula One car in Valencia on several occasions. The first few metres in a brand-new car are always a very special experience.
"Early this year I spent a few days in Valencia with my family between the rollout and the next test. We had a great time, went to the beach, and in town there's a dried-out riverbed that has nature parks and playgrounds. That was very nice, especially for the children. Valencia is also a great place for shopping and eating out, needless to say, and I love the contrast between its historic and futuristic architecture. I'm looking forward to the weekend."
Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber
"I am very much looking forward to Valencia as I am a big fan of street circuits in general. They are very demanding as they are often bumpy and the street surface changes. When you make a mistake you easily run into barriers. Anyway, Valencia will not be a complete street circuit. There will be lots of run-off areas for safety reasons. The FIA puts a lot of effort into safety, which is good.
"On a street circuit it is of major importance to have a good basic set-up which is easy to drive. The lap time improvement has to be gained step by step, you cannot drive in too wild a style. Also, in terms of the racing line you have to approach this gradually. It is very important to walk the track before driving it the first time to get a feeling for the surface and the layout."
Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director
We are very much looking forward to the race and the city, particularly as BMW has some close associations with Valencia. The Formula BMW Racing Centre there serves as the training site for our up-and-coming young talent in the Formula BMW series around the world. Valencia is by tradition the venue for rolling out our new F1 car, and beyond that city races always make for a unique atmosphere. We await the new circuit with keen anticipation."
Willy Rampf, BMW Sauber, technical director
"Valencia is a new venue in the calendar and as such poses a particular challenge, not least because it's a street circuit. Not that it's a slow one - the drivers will be exceeding the 300 km/h mark on the fastest section. With the help of our simulation programs we are in a position to reliably calculate the required downforce levels in advance as well as brake wear and gear ratios. That means we will start out with a good basic set-up. If you compare Valencia with Monaco, you're talking about two street circuits but with very distinctive characters and very different challenges for the cars. In Valencia we will be racing with a lot of downforce, but not with the maximum that Monaco demands."
Jenson Button, Honda
"My first thoughts are that it's a circuit that we haven't raced at before and it's got barriers all around it! I think the whole of Formula One is very excited about going to Valencia. It's a beautiful city and it will be great to be racing around the streets there. We have a simulator at our UK base, as do most teams, and spending a lot of time on that has been vital in terms of learning the circuit. With a simulator, you're not getting the complete feeling of the car but you are gaining understanding of the distances and the braking points, so it's very useful. We have some very fast circuits like Monza, Spa and Silverstone on the calendar and then the slower circuits like Monaco and Hungary, and we're expecting Valencia to be somewhere in the middle. It's also got the added excitement of being surrounded by barriers which really focuses your mind and demands that you give full concentration around every single lap."
Rubens Barrichello, Honda
"The challenge of learning a new circuit is always exciting, particularly when it is an unusual venue such as the new street circuit in Valencia. Despite preparing as much as we can in advance of the race, our track walk with the engineers on Thursday and the practice sessions on Friday will be absolutely key to learning the track and assessing the grip levels. A new track always opens up the field and gives an opportunity for the driver to make an impact as our feedback will be very important in achieving the correct set-up. We have prepared well and I am looking forward to the weekend and the potential to score some points. We can expect the race weekend to be very hot which will add to the physical challenge for the drivers, car and team. I'm a big fan of Valencia as a city; it's a beautiful location, and hopefully the race will bring a lot of new fans to Formula One."
Ross Brawn, Honda, team principal
"Valencia is often thought of as a temporary race venue, however it is actually a permanent street circuit which is quite fast and flowing; it's not like the type of street circuit that we have been used to racing around in Monaco. There has been some racing around the track already with sportscars and Spanish F3, so we have been gathering information from those races to see what we can learn in advance of the race weekend.
Valencia is going to be a medium to low-downforce track with a couple of quick corners which will present a very challenging circuit in an exciting environment. One of the key aspects is that it is going to be very windy. The America's Cup is held in Valencia for this very reason, however, such conditions could make achieving a good balance on the cars quite tricky. The Valencia weekend is going to be a fascinating engineering challenge for the team and we are all looking forward to it."
Alex Wurz, Honda, test driver
"I remember the first Formula One test that I did in Valencia in 2000. Back then it was the tiniest town and it has grown like mad to become a very cool city. There are good places to go out and it's very fast moving. The city is really into sport, with football and the America's Cup, and they will put on a good show for Formula One. I think Valencia will very quickly establish itself as one of our favourite Grands Prix.
"Being a street track, it will have that extra bit of flair and it will be a real buzz for the drivers to learn a new track. It will be dusty to start with, so they will need to increase their speed steadily because the barriers will be very unforgiving. I really like street circuits and it would be cool to be racing this weekend!"
Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren
"It looks pretty fast, to be honest. You get used to street circuits being quite slow, with lots of slow- to medium-speed corners and very short straights, but this is almost the opposite. There are a lot of fast kinks and esses, a couple of decent straights and lots of high-speed stuff. Its too early to say yet whether there will be opportunities to overtake around here, but there are a couple of hairpins where it might be possible."
Lewis Hamilton, McLaren
"We launched the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team in (Valencia) at the start of 2007, and Ive tested at the Ricardo Tormo circuit so the city isnt unfamiliar to me. Anyway, going to a new circuit doesnt really change my preparations: everybodys in the same situation so I dont treat things very differently. Of course, weve done some preparation back at the McLaren Technology Centre ahead of this race, but our main focus will still be the three free practice sessions ahead of qualifying. Ill be working closely with my engineers to make sure we start the weekend with a good baseline and work hard to strengthen it as we go through the weekend. I enjoy visiting new racetracks and Im looking forward to getting into the cockpit on Friday morning. It looks like being an amazing track."
Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren, Formula One CEO
"In terms of car set-up, we need to remember that, like Monaco, the track will be both green and dusty on the opening day of practice. That sometimes tempts you into playing with set-up more than you would like, so you need to resist that temptation and let the track come to the car. Our simulations suggest well employ a downforce level similar to that of Hockenheim, but the individual demands of the track may push that window up or down. Finally, anybody whos studied any onboard footage of the circuit will be mindful of the proximity of the concrete barriers in certain areas - clearly, well be packing plenty of spares, but hoping we wont need to use them!
"The most important thing is to be thorough, methodical and iterative. Although we arrive at a new racetrack having undertaken a huge amount of research and armed with an enormous amount of data, the reality is that its really only the starting point for our engineering team. We begin Friday practice the way we would at any other circuit, but in this instance, we need to pay particular attention both to driver feedback and the data generated from the car. The important thing is not to react too hastily - its vital that you dont end up going down the wrong path, because you only have a limited amount of time to tune the set-up before qualifying."
Norbert Haug, Vice President, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
"When you think about temporary street races in Formula One, you mainly think about Monaco. However, Valencia does not have very much in common with this classic race; just that both cities are located on the Mediterranean coast and that both circuits lead along the harbour front. While the Monte Carlo race is the slowest of the year with an average speed of about 156 km/h for the fastest lap, and is also the shortest with a race distance of almost 254 kilometres, we face a race distance of 310 kilometres in Valencia and a track on which the cars will reach 300 km/h or more five times per lap. Three times per lap the drivers also have to brake to about 80 km/h which will be as extremely demanding for the brakes as the Montreal circuit. The longest full throttle section will be along the harbour where the drivers will drive at full throttle for 13 seconds. The front straight is 185 metres long and the shortest of all Formula One circuits this year. We calculated an average speed per lap of 225 km/h which will be the eighth fastest of all Grand Prix tracks. This is not typical for a street race; it is more like a version of Silverstone or Monza but located in a city.
"Our technicians at Mercedes-Benz HighPerformanceEngines in Brixworth and Stuttgart work out the circuit simulation data together with our partner McLaren Racing and use them for the engine dyno simulation. The work on the dyno is based on calculated gear ratios, revs and gear changes. According to that we find the optimum engine response and we also optimise the calibration accordingly to match the demands of the Valencia circuit as well as requirements of our drivers. This preparation is particularly important for a new circuit, for which we dont have data from testing or races - in the end, it can be crucial to tackle qualifying and race in the best possible shape."